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Mediterranean diet tops best diets list for 6th straight year

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A flexitarian diet is one that encourages a vegetarian diet most of the time, but has the flexibility to also include animal proteins like a hamburger. The Mediterranean diet focuses on whole grains, healthy fats, vegetables, fruits and seafood, while the TLC diet, which stands for therapeutic lifestyle changes, also calls for an intake of lots of vegetables, whole grains, fruits and lean meats. , according to Gretel Schueller, editor in chief of US News and World Report.

Schueller said the magazine considers the diet in its rankings to be a way of eating, not a plan to lose weight. She said the ranking’s new family category is an acknowledgment that families want to eat healthy together and not stick to multiple meal plans.

“Obviously, you don’t want to cook multiple meals for different family members every day, because that’s not going to last long,” Schueller told ABC News. “We wanted to make sure the eating plan offered nutritional value for different caloric and nutritional needs, for example, different ages, different activity levels, different health conditions, when you have a different group of people.”

She added, “You can literally eat anything on these diets. It’s about making sure the bulk of your calories and nutrition comes from vegetables, fruits and whole grains.”

Nutrition experts say that there is no one diet that works for everyone. Certain diets may be more beneficial depending on your circumstances. Anyone considering changes to their diet should consult their doctor, experts say.

The US News panel of experts that determines annual diet rankings also looked at “real-world constraints” such as budget, meal prep time and food availability when choosing the best family diets, according to Schueller.

“For example, how easy is it to find the supplement or food ingredient you need,” she said. “We also asked how adaptable this diet is for the whole family or group of people with different cultural, religious or food preferences.”

In addition to ranking at the top of the family category, the Mediterranean, Flexitarian, and TLC diets also ranked in the top five of the Best Diets Overall category in the US News and World Report rankings.

“Any plan that eliminates an entire food group, fruit or dairy for non-medical reasons is a red flag and is why the Mediterranean diet is always a big winner,” Schueller said. “You’re eating delicious whole foods. It’s backed by decades of research showing its benefits for a variety of health conditions. The Mediterranean diet is healthy, it’s sustainable, it’s a tasty way to eat, and it’s adaptable.”

She continued, “It’s not just about olives, feta cheese and other Mediterranean foods. You can adapt the principles of that Mediterranean lifestyle to just about any cuisine, any culture.”

Keen observers will notice that this year’s Best Diets list does not include some culturally popular diets, such as the Whole30, as in the past.

The US News expert panel – which includes leading experts in nutrition, diabetes, heart health and weight loss – decided this year to focus on “quality over quantity” and ranked a total of 24 diets.

The keto diet, which focuses on eating foods that are high in fat and low in carbs, ranked No. 1 in the Best Diets for Fast Weight Loss category, while it ranked No. 20 on the Best Diets Overall list.

“What we’re seeing is that the diets that help people learn to make healthy food choices and prepare smart meals on their own are the diets that work well, whereas the overly restrictive diets, whether we’re talking about calories or food whole groups, these are the diets that rate poorly,” Schueller said. “There is no one-size-fits-all approach to dieting. You have to consider your personality and lifestyle.”

Here’s a breakdown of the top five diets in US News and World Report’s 2023 overall ranking of the best diets.

1. Mediterranean diet

The Mediterranean diet emphasizes eating fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, nuts, legumes, virgin olive oil, and flavorful herbs and spices; fish and seafood at least twice a week; and poultry, eggs, cheese and yogurt in moderation, according to US News and World Report.

PHOTO: Vegetables, fruits, beans, nuts, whole grains, fish and olive oil make up most of the Mediterranean diet.

STOCK PHOTO/Getty Images

Vegetables, fruits, beans, nuts, whole grains, fish and olive oil make up most of a Mediterranean diet.

It focuses on food quality rather than a single nutrient or food group. People following a Mediterranean diet enjoy red meat and desserts as “occasional treats,” says the magazine. Red wine in moderation and with meals is optional.

“This type of low-fat eating pattern leaves little room for the saturated fat, added sugars and sodium that flood the standard American diet,” says the magazine. “People who follow a Mediterranean diet have longer life expectancy, report a higher quality of life and are less likely to suffer from chronic diseases such as cancer and heart disease.”

2. DASH Diet

The DASH diet, made up of low-sodium, healthy foods, was originally started by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) as a diet to help lower blood pressure.

PHOTO: Selection of healthy food with fresh vegetables, fruits, herbs, legumes, seeds and nuts.

Marilyna/Getty Images/iStockphoto

Healthy food selection with fresh vegetables, fruits, herbs, legumes, seeds and nuts.

The plan focuses on fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean protein, and eliminates high-fat foods like fatty meats and full-fat dairy, as well as sugary drinks and sweets, according to US News and World Report. An important component is minimizing salt intake, which lowers blood pressure.

“The DASH diet is similar to the Mediterranean eating pattern, but offers more concrete recommendations and advice about actual amounts and limits on types of food consumed,” the magazine says, noting that food groups are not eliminated on the DASH diet, which provides serving recommendations. .

2. Flexitarian diet

The flexitarian diet encourages people to try alternative meat options like tofu, but leaves room for flexibility if you can’t give up meat completely. The diet was promoted by nutritionist Dawn Jackson Blatner in a 2009 book that says you can reap the benefits of a plant-rich diet even if you eat meat occasionally, according to US News and World Report.

This high-vegetable diet focuses on adding five food groups—”new meat,” fruits and vegetables, whole grains, dairy, sugar, and spices—to your diet, rather than taking foods out.

The “new meat” food group includes tofu, beans, lentils, peas, nuts, seeds and eggs, according to US News and World Report, which notes that the diet’s health benefits may include a lower rate of disease. heart disease, diabetes and cancer.

PHOTO: Assortment of healthy food ingredients for cooking on the kitchen table.

Aamulya/Getty Images/iStockphoto

Assortment of healthy food ingredients for cooking on a kitchen table.

“With a flexitarian diet – often called a semi-vegetarian diet – you don’t have to eliminate meat completely to reap the health benefits associated with vegetarianism,” the magazines state. “Instead, you can be vegetarian most of the time but still enjoy a burger or steak when you feel like it.”

4. MIND Diet

The Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay (MIND) diet is a hybrid of the top-rated DASH and Mediterranean diets.

Research has shown that this diet can improve cognitive function in older adults and may be superior to other diets in this regard, including those listed here.

The diet focuses on food groups known to improve brain health, including green leafy vegetables in particular, all other vegetables, nuts, berries, beans, whole grains, fish, poultry, olive oil and wine,” according to the US News and World Report.

Among the dietary requirements is eating three servings of whole grains, a salad and a vegetable daily, plus fish once a week and chicken twice a week. Foods such as red meat, sweets and whole-grain cheese are limited.

5. TLC Diet

The TLC (Therapeutic Lifestyle Changes) diet was created by the National Institutes of Health’s National Cholesterol Education Program with the “goal of lowering cholesterol as part of a heart-healthy diet,” according to the US News and World Report.

In addition to setting a daily caloric goal, participants aim to cut saturated fat to less than 7% of daily calories and consume no more than 200 milligrams of dietary cholesterol a day, according to US News and World Report.

The diet calls for eating lots of vegetables, fruits, low-fat or non-fat dairy, and lean meats, and it also allows for servings of bread and pasta. It is recommended that fatty fish such as salmon and tuna be consumed twice a week, while egg yolk consumption is restricted to twice a week or less. A high soluble fiber intake of 10 to 25 grams per day is also recommended.

This diet’s emphasis on keeping a detailed record of cholesterol intake can make it difficult for people to keep track. Furthermore, more recent research suggests that dietary cholesterol does not appear to have an impact on the risk of cardiovascular disease, therefore specific intake restrictions are no longer recommended.

A scientific statement from the American Heart Association recommended that dietary guidance focus on healthy eating patterns, such as the Mediterranean and DASH diets, which are inherently low in cholesterol.